Soldier of Fortune Payback ReviewJason Leyanna
Plagued by poor timing, Soldier of Fortune Payback went under the radar as other FPS titles took all of the limelight (namely Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare), and rightfully so. Perhaps Soldier of Fortune Payback would have had better sales if Activision had waited longer to release it instead of its holiday release up against such rigid competition.
Though Activision was still the publisher for the previous games of the series, Raven Software is no longer the developer. The development was handed over to Cauldron for this iteration of the Soldier of Fortune series.
The deserted environments suddenly become full of enemies ready to try to blow your head off. The worn down and dilapidated buildings are where enemies are lurking. Numerous bullets riddle the sky in every direction, mainly aimed at you and your allies. The textures of walls and other stationary objects show the carnage of the bullets and the explosions. A helicopter flies overhead. Then gray smoke billows up from a flaming car, where seconds ago a grenade exploded nearby. Minutes before it was just a stationary vehicle that was abandoned. Dust, dirt, and debris flies as the grenade nearly misses your character. The screen turns to a tinge of red to show that you need to get out of the action for a bit to heal up. If the grenade is too close, you’re dead and it’s game over. Unlike real life, you can just restart at your latest checkpoint. As you can tell, these in-game graphics, physics engine, environments, explosions, and high intensity action make for a decent game.
The story starts off with a routine escort mission going dreadfully wrong… and goes from there. The story isn’t one of the game’s strong points as it is generic and contains nothing terribly unexpected. For most first-person shooters, the action is the main feature and people don’t think much of the plot. But the storyline is just another point holding this game back from being something other than mediocre.
The controls will be familiar to you if you play other first-person shooters on the Xbox 360. There are 30 in-game weapons, excluding grenades, which include the defaults: G36E, PDW-7, and MK23. If you are unfamiliar with a certain type of weapon you can read up on the stats of each firearm to get a better idea of their accuracy, damage, etc. These may be changed to your weapons of choice at the start of the mission depending on what will work best for the given situation.
With all the first-person shooters out there, Payback unfortunately fails to introduce enough that is new and compelling to the genre to make a dent in the success of similar titles. The only major addition is the dismemberment, though the case does suggest that there is a low-violence option (you can turn off gore in the options menu). Sadly, the gore will probably be one of the few draws for people to get interested in the game. On the other hand, the graphics show detailed textures and well-animated characters, both friend and foe. Regrettably, they aren’t quite in the caliber of Call of Duty 4, for those of you who have had a chance to play it.
Payback isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t groundbreaking either, and at a time with two stellar Xbox 360 shooters, Soldier of Fortune Payback will likely go unnoticed. Once this title reaches the bargain bin and you’ve played Halo 3 until your heart is content, get some payback by checking out Soldier of Fortune Payback. PlayStation 3 and PC versions are also available.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.